Category Archives: The Heavenly Body of Hermetism

Sexual Ambivalence

Sexual Ambivalence: Androgyny and Hermaphroditism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity by Luc Brisson, translated by Janet Lloyd, a 2002 paperback from University of California Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Luc Brisson Janet Lloyd Sexual Ambivalence from University of California Press

“This fascinating book collects and translates most of the extant Graeco-Roman writing on human beings, divinities, animals, and other creatures who were both female and male. Luc Brisson provides a commentary that situates this rich source material within its historical and intellectual contexts. These selections—from mythological, philosophical, historical, and anecdotal sources—describe cases of either simultaneous dual sexuality, as in androgyny and hermaphroditism, or successive dual sexuality, as in the case of Tiresias (the blind Theban prophet), which are found through the whole span of Graeco-Roman antiquity. Sexual Ambivalence is an invaluable sourcebook that gathers this suggestive, yet hard to find, material in one convenient place.

In addition to including such familiar sources as the myth of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus as told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Aristophanes’s myth of the origin of the sexes and sexuality in Plato’s Symposium, Brisson also discusses cosmogonic mythology in Hesiodic poetry, the Orphic Rhapsodies, Gnosticism, the Hermetic Corpus, and the so-called Chaldean Oracles. He presents the manifold variants of the myth of Tiresias, as well as many other sources.

These ancient stories deepen our awareness of how strongly the polarity of sexuality colors our entire perception of the world and are profoundly relevant to our thinking today.” — back cover

Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Experience

Article from 2006 on “Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Experience” by Marius Dumitrescu is (or at least it was) in PDF [see instead] from Cultura, International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology.

“In his writings on mnemonics, Bruno established a complex affinity between magic and Kabbalah on the one hand, and between Lullism and the art of memory on the other. The Nolan is no stranger to the hermetic text of the Renaissance, based on the Corpus Hermeticum and especially on the Kore Kosmu, which pursued value purification of exteriority through interiority.

In The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, Bruno picks up on the hermetic exercise of pattern conversion, from the sense-related vices towards the reason-related virtues, operating thus a reorientation from the exterior toward the noetic interior. One recognized here the same technique Plato used in his Republic, when he amassed all the gods of Homer into one alone, the embodiment of Truth, Justice and Good.

The purpose of The Expulsion dialogue is to grant a return to unity to the intellect. Thus, Bruno unveils the fact that the magical religion of the Egyptians becomes his own, seeking, by way of magical rituals, to attain divine loftiness, that condition in which things acquire their meaning and significance, making thus possible the acknowledgement of their existence.” — abstract